Monday, April 30, 2012

Indy Acoustic Cafe Series:
Jonathan Edwards hits a home run

Jonathan Edwards delivered a rousing finish to the current season of the Indy Acoustic Cafe Series Saturday, with a show that had spectators smiling, swooning, in awe and hootin' and hollerin' at all the right moments.

The show, at the Wheeler Arts Community in the Fountain Square cultural district of Indianapolis, was the seventh of the season that began last November and included -- with a few double bills -- performances by 12 artists, if you include Shawn Mullins' sidekick Patrick Blanchard and Craig Fuller's son Patrick. Also appearing this season were James House, Griffin House, Vance Gilbert, Callaghan, Catie Curtis, Jessi Curtis and Ellis Paul. Neither of the Houses nor Curtises is related, by the way.
Like many artists who appear in the series and who travel the country and globe performing before intimate audiences, Jonathan Edwards flirted with significant fame at least once in his career -- his 1971 single "Sunshine" was a Top 40 Billboard hit -- before settling down to a busy, less commercial-driving lifestyle. The sense of humility and appreciation of people's enjoyment of the craft exhibited Saturday has been a hallmark of almost all the performers I've seen at the Wheeler in the long-running series.

Edwards' show Saturday was packed with self-deprecation, storytelling, a brief explanation for why he was performing barefoot (he joked that his shoes were confiscated by airport security); a sharp wit and playful interaction with the audience; and a spine-tingling bluesy-ballad cover of the Beatles' "She Loves You" that snuck up on just about everyone in the audience, including me, and had folks hootin' (including me) with excitement at song's conclusion.

He also performed a charming, rhythmic, bayou-like romp, "Don't Crawfish Me" (a song he said a person he met in a bar offered to him); his ballad  "Sometimes" that a front-row spectator had requested ... and then transmitted live (with Edwards' blessing) via cellphone to the spectator's wife, Marsha, who was not at the show; and that wonderfully uplifting "Sunshine," which he gave an interesting syncopation makeover for the Series crowd in attendance.

After Edwards' final number of the regular set, I witnessed something I'd not seen at a Series show before: an immediate -- and unanimous -- standing ovation with more hoots and hollers. Would he come back to offer a clearly appreciative and satisfied audience an encore, and could it possibly top everything else he'd already done this night? Yes ... and yes. Edwards sung, a cappella, a stirring, spine-tingling (there's that phrase again) environment-awareness song that he dedicated to the recent observance of Earth Week.

Bottom line, the show became my new favorite of the dozen or so performances I've seen now in the series. The next season of the Series will open Oct. 13 and feature a return visit from John Gorka.

And now, here are some pictures from Saturday's Jonathan Edwards show. As always, click on the images to see larger versions. The final three images below are from the compelling a cappella encore.

To see a full gallery of images from the show, visit the Jonathan Edwards gallery in the Indy Acoustic Cafe Series area of my online site.

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